Sadly, the short answer is yes. And the longer answer is that some subway stations are more dangerous to your hearing than others. Anil Lalwani, MD, an otolaryngologist at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and his colleagues prepared a study that examined whether subway station design influenced noise levels. Dr. Lalwani and his team went to twenty stations in Manhattan and discovered “that the noisiest platforms shared one thing in common: curved tracks.” Click the link above to view Dr. Lalwani’s video about this study, its conclusion, and to hear Dr. Lalwani’s recommendations about “what we can do to reduce the risk of long-term hearing damage from subway noise exposure.”
For one very thoughtful answer read Olivia Parker’s article, “‘In Pursuit of Silence’: the film that says we need more quiet in our lives.”
Parker’s article starts with her review of “In the Pursuit of Silence,” a new film about the impact of noise on our lives and the movement to bring silence back into our everyday world. She finds the film “both calming and jarring to watch.” It “opens with near-silence,” she states, “four minutes and 33 seconds of it, to be precise, in honour of John Cage’s experimental composition 4’33, in which performers sit in silence for that length of time.” The film then combines “30-second-long static camera shots of scenes and their sounds – a tree in a field, a petrol station at night, a motorway – with interviews with people involved in the consideration of sound and silence all over the world.” Parker notes that it is “the first major film to be made about noise pollution – and for those who have been calling for a quiet revolution for years, it’s a much-needed step towards a more sound-balanced world.”
Parker’s review acts as a conversation opener to a deeper exploration of the pervasiveness and dangerousness of noise and the healing power of silence. The query “how noisy are we now” is followed by a litany of aural abuses, focusing mainly on unavoidable transportation sounds–noise from airplanes, street traffic, and the Tube–but addng that respite cannot be had by ducking into a nearby restaurant for a nosh and some peace. Parker looks at the consequences of living in a noisy world and they are not good. She catalogs noise’s negative affect on one’s spirit, mood, ability to learn, and wellbeing.
The focus on our noisy world is followed with a look at the benefits of quiet, examining how it calms, increases productivity, and may even help our brains grow. Parker concludes by examining how we can get more silence in our lives, highlighting the work of Quiet Mark, a UK company that “awards a badge of “quality” to brands that meet particular sound requirements,” and reviewing eight everyday appliances that have been awarded Quiet Marks.
The world could be a quieter place, we learn, if only all designers considered noise avoidance as important as durability, efficiency, or style.
There’s so much more in this article, so click the link to read it all.
LInk via Antonella Radicchi @firenzesoundmap.
The cause of the screeching with the MTA trains could be something different–sounds like squealing brakes to us–but the idea that a transportation authority would make an effort to identify the source of the noise and do something to correct it, that’s priceless. Let’s hope that other transportation authorities consider the aural impact of their trains, light rail, trolleys, and buses going forward.